Art and Literature News

The Tolkien Inspired Art of Norloth

I always love finding great Tolkien-inspired art, and one of the best things about seeking it out is discovering such varied artwork, sometimes even from the same artist! Once upon a time, I found the artist Norloth, and at first, I was just impressed by her sketches and portraits. Then I found her digital art, and once I saw her leather bookmarks and cuffs, she gained an ardent fan (and customer).

Now that she had me hooked, I wanted to know more about Norloth–her background, her inspiration (besides Tolkien, of course), and what it is about Middle-earth that draws her in.

norlothMiddle-earth News: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in art?

Norloth: I’m known as Norloth. This name came from my LOTRO character, though I don’t play it anymore…( I love the game, but I just totally suck in gaming. )

I started to draw since I was a child, but never considered that to be my career, because no one in my family does any art related job. I studied computer science for my undergrad degree. After having worked few years as a technique supporter, I didn’t feel myself on the right track. It was in 2011 when Peter Jackson began to shoot The Hobbit films that made me want to have a change in my career. You know, the power of the whole having an adventure thing. This was what drove me this far, from the east of China to the west of Europe. So I’m back to school again and now an illustration student in Edinburgh College of Art.

M-e News: How were you introduced to J.R.R. Tolkien?

Norloth: Honestly, I didn’t know about Tolkien before I saw The Fellowship of the Ring film when I was 16. But soon after the film, I got totally attracted by Middle-earth and rushed to a local book store to buy the LOTR books (Chinese version) and read them every night after school. So I was introduced to Professor Tolkien…by Peter Jackson.

M-e News: Where do you get your inspiration? Are there any artists who have influenced your work?

Norloth: It’s very obvious that I get most of my inspiration from Tolkien’s books and Peter Jackson’s films. Sometimes the inspiration comes from the places I visit (like the stained glass windows in church) and people I see, or the films I watch, but Middle-earth always overpowers everything else.

As I was first introduced to Middle-earth by the films, Alan Lee and John Howe both influenced me a lot. Every time I see a piece of artwork I really like, I will kinda get influenced a little by it. So sometimes I don’t even realize who exactly influenced my work.

M-e News: Do you have a favorite Tolkien character? If so, what is it that draws you to them?

Norloth: It’s so hard to just pick one. My favorite character in the books is Bilbo. He gave me a lot of courage to go out and see the world. I feel I have a lot in common with him, except the wealthiness.

My favorite characters in the films are Aragorn and Thorin. The reason is too complicated to explain. Maybe in one sentence: I have a kingly taste…

A Gift from Tolkien by Norloth

A Gift from Tolkien by Norloth

M-e News: Is there a particular piece you’re most proud of?

Norloth: I drew a Tolkien monograph a few years ago and it got used by many people I think. I didn’t expect that it would become popular; the initial motivation was just to print it on postcards and send to my friends on Christmas.

And the most recent piece that I’m proud of is the crowned Thorin Oakenshield portrait. It took me many hours. It may be the most time consuming portrait I ever did. I had the chance to show it to Mr. Armitage in August—I think he liked it.

Norloth_Bookmarks_and_Cuffs

M-e News: Your leather cuffs and bookmarks are great! Which came first and gave you the brilliant idea for the other? Did you have experience with leather working, or did you learn as you went along?

Norloth: The bookmarks lead to the cuffs.

I never worked with leather before. So it seemed impossible for me to hand cut the leather into those complicated patterns. I used the laser-cut machine for my last project (and I know Weta use it a lot on the costumes!), so I thought it would be an ideal tool for cutting the patterns on leather. But I did learn something from the process, like how to bevel the edge and what kind of dye I should use. It’s always good to see a pattern on paper turn into a 3D object and wear it with pride.

M-e News: Do you have any more cool ideas for items to sell in your shop? Do you take requests?

Norloth: The ideas just come to my mind unexpectedly. Maybe a small booklet of the poetry illustrations I developed from last year. I want to sell some non-Tolkien items as well in the future. If time allows, I’d like to take a few requests, depending on what subjects and style are requested.

 

Beware of spoilers!

 

M-e News: What are you most looking forward to seeing in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies?

Norloth: There’re so many things! Like whether Smaug’s death will be shot as it was written in the book; how Peter is going to demonstrate the negotiation amongst men, dwarves and elves; Thorin’s reaction when finding out that Bilbo has the Arkenstone; and the Battle of Five Armies itself of course. If only to choose one, that would be Thorin’s death scene. It will make me sad (extremely sad, since I like this character so much now), but that’s my favorite part in the book. I’m also looking forward to the song that will appear in the last film.

Norloth's portrait of Thorin Oakenshield - Approved by RIchard Armitage!

Norloth’s portrait of Thorin Oakenshield – Approved by Richard Armitage!

M-e News: Aside from subjects related to Tolkien, what do you most enjoy drawing?

Norloth: Portraits of people, especially those I like.

M-e News: When you’re not creating great pieces of art, what can people usually find you doing?

Norloth: Taking photos, watching films, collecting Middle-earth related things, or doing news translation and report ing for a Chinese Tolkien site called The Redbook of Middle-earth.

 

If you like Norloth’s art (and how could you not?), there are a multitude of ways to follow her work:

Website – Norloth.com
Tumblr – norloth.tumblr.com
DeviantArt – vigshane.deviantart.com
Etsy – etsy.com/uk/shop/NorlothArt
Twitter – @Norloth
Facebook – NorlothArt
Instagram – instagram.com/norloth

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One Comment

  1. Hi Lily, really interesting article! Stunning artwork by Norloth too. 🙂
    Annie-Louise (from Twitter).